The Escalation Of Regional Tension Over The Filling Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The Escalation Of Regional Tension Over The Filling Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

The Escalation Of Regional Tension Over The Filling Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Ethiopia is geographically a mixture of ancient historical kingdoms, and it was formed as a state in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Ethiopia is geographically a mixture of ancient historical kingdoms, and it was formed as a state in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Ethiopia is geographically a mixture of ancient historical kingdoms, and it was formed as a state in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Before that, this region was called Abyssinia.

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Research by Jeelan Aburub

The ancient kingdom of Abyssinia was founded by the Amhara tribe. It was considered a politically unstable empire, and it entered into conflicts with neighboring empires, such as the Ottoman Empire at the time.

European countries also witnessed a conflict with Ethiopia, Italy entered a war with it but was defeated in it with the help of Russia and France, then Italy re-established its colonies in Ethiopia and within parts of Eritrea. Ethiopia witnessed a civil war later, that war came as a result of being affected by external factors, including the emergence of national liberation movements, especially after the period of World War II, and the second factor, when the last king of Ethiopia decided to develop science and focus on building universities and schools, and as a result, the proportion of culture among people increased, which led to the emergence of political currents carrying different ideologies.

The Escalation Of Regional Tension Over The Filling Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The Escalation Of Regional Tension Over The Filling Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

A first current has emerged that believes that Ethiopia is one nation despite the multi- ethnicity, but rather the Christian religion, Amharic language and culture bring them together. As for the second trend, it believed that the Ethiopian people were a mixture of races and that minority groups should gain their independence.

At the end of the sixties, the student movements revolted  against  the  itchy  elites  because  they   rejected the false Ethiopian identity. A coup took place in 1974, and Ethiopia began pursuing the federal system to solve the problem of ethnic diversity and the right to self-determination, but then other problems appeared within the states themselves.

The geographical expansion of Ethiopia was at the expense of other countries  such as Kenya,  Sudan and Somalia as a result of this expansion, it led to a change in geography and population.

What is the Renaissance Dam (GERD)?

In 1953, Ethiopia decided to build a large dam on the Nile, but in that, Gamal Abdel Nasser’s relationship with Ethiopia was strong. Gamal Abdel Nasser sent Emperor Haile Selassie a letter asking  him  to  stop  the  construction  work  of  the  dam  as  it  represented  a  threat  to  Egypt.  Accordingly, Ethiopia reduced the height of the dam from 112 meters to 11 meters. In 1959, Egypt and Sudan agreed to divide  the  waters  that  reach  the  two  countries  through  the  Blue  Nile,  the   source of about 80% of the Nile’s water, amounting to 84 billion cubic meters.

In the era of Sadat, Ethiopia objected to extending the Nile waters to the Sinai, and Ethiopia again  constructed the idea of building and developing dams. President Sadat responded in 1979 with a  threat of force against any action taken by Ethiopia regarding the dam, then Ethiopia denied the  idea of constructing the dam for fear of Egypt’s threats. After that, Sadat ordered the dam to be  bombed secretly. During the era of President Hosni Mubarak, Ethiopia also threatened to bomb  any  dams  built  on  the  Nile  and  instructed  African  countries  including  Uganda,  Rwanda,  and   Burundi not to sign the Entebbe Agreement for the Nile Basin countries. After half a century, in  2011, Ethiopia began building the Grand Renaissance Dam, which sparked a new crisis between  Ethiopia on the one hand and Egypt and Sudan on the other hand, and then this crisis ended with  the signing of a tripartite agreement between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan in 2015.

In the fifties, the site of the Renaissance Dam was determined for the first time by the United States  Office of Reclamation of the American Departments of State without consulting Egypt. In 2011,  the project to build the dam was initially assigned to the Italian company Salini, and the project to  build  the  dam  was  called  “Project  X”  and  then  the  former  Prime  Minister  of  Ethiopia,  Meles   Zenawi Hajar. The foundation of the dam has been a rock crusher along with a small airstrip for  rapid transit. 2011 The American company We Build awarded a contract of 4.8 billion US dollars  to finance the project. On July 15, 2020, the Ethiopian Minister of Irrigation announced the start  of filling the Renaissance Dam despite the lack of agreement between the three countries, Egypt,  Sudan and Ethiopia, stressing that the recent satellite images of the Renaissance Dam were correct.

The Escalation Of Regional Tension Over The Filling Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The Escalation Of Regional Tension Over The Filling Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

The main purpose of building this dam for Ethiopia is to generate electricity and export it to its  neighboring countries. The capacity of the Renaissance Dam is 74 billion cubic meters, Ethiopian  Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed claims that the rains contributed to the completion of the first stage  of filling the reservoir, but Egypt fears a temporary decrease in the availability of water due to the  period  of  filling  the  tank  and  a  permanent  decrease  due  to  evaporation  from  the  water  tank.  otherwise as for the damage to Sudan because of this project the dam will retain the silt. Thus, the  lifespan and benefit of dams in Sudan will be increased – such as the Roseires Dam, Sennar Dam  and Meroe Dam – and the Aswan High Dam in Egypt. The beneficial and harmful effects of flood  control will affect the Sudanese part of the Blue Nile, just as it will affect the Ethiopian part of the  Blue Nile downstream of the dam.

The Interest of the Rest of the Major Countries in Supporting Both Sides

The Escalation Of Regional Tension Over The Filling Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The Escalation Of Regional Tension Over The Filling Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

The interests of the major countries differ over the construction of the Renaissance Dam, as there  is an agreement and military cooperation between Ethiopia and Russia to build the dam. There is  a military technological cooperation agreement between Ethiopia and Russia that does not include  the  supply  of  weapons,  but  rather  training  in  technological  skills,  especially  with  regard  to  the   Ethiopian Air Force, such as the MG21, 23 and Sukhoi 27 aircraft.

The skills of the Ethiopian army may be considered insufficient for the Sukhoi aircraft, and also  this  type  of  aircraft  is  not  defensively  developed,  but  it  reaches  the  Egyptian  High  Dam,  at  the   same time, there is the Flamingo base. The Russian base located in the Red Sea serves Russia’s  interests  in  the  region.  The  base  accommodates  four  ships,  anchors  for  boats  and  cruisers,  and   includes  war  and  defense  systems,  and  about  80  soldiers  and  technicians,  and  their  number  is   scheduled  to  reach  300  after  the  base  is  equipped. While  the  relationship  between  Russia  and   Egypt, political tension and mistrust between them began a history after the Camp David treaty  between Egypt and Israel under American auspices. As well as Egypt’s support for Somalia, while  Russia was supporting Ethiopia against Somalia.

Russia  seeks  to  stabilize  its  presence  in  the  Middle  East,  as  it  can  preserve  its  allies  despite  its   differences with its allies on some issues. For example, the Egyptian armament will not be affected  by  the  Russian  side. As  well  as  relations  with  Turkey,  despite  Turkey’s  presence  in  NATO,  it   maintains its relationship with Russia regarding the Russian S-400 missiles.

The Latest Developments in The Negotiations in Brussels

The Egyptian Foreign Minister visited Brussels in the past weeks, in which he discussed with  European  Union  leaders  his  country’s  position  regarding  the  Renaissance  Dam  crisis,  and  the   Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament stressed that a just solution to the crisis would spare the region  from  conflict.  Also,  in  the  past  weeks,  the  Arab  League  called  to  discuss  the  crisis  of  the   Renaissance  Dam  and  held  a  meeting  in  the  Qatari  capital,  Doha.  Egypt  put  its  reserves  in  the   military options and worked to strengthen security and intelligence cooperation with neighboring  countries such as Djibouti, as well as military exercises with Sudan. Of course, Egypt cannot carry  out any strike. military without US approval.

As for the legal aspect, Egypt threatens to withdraw  from the tripartite agreement that was held in 2015.  The  last  scenario  of  what  is  happening  around  the  project  is  not  a  military  solution.  Ethiopia  is   expected to document the project filling the reservoir for fear of flood, the European Union also  criticizes the direction of the second mobilization carried out by Ethiopia, so any consequences  that  will  result  from  this  project  will  also  be  firm  decisions  from  the  European  Union  against   Ethiopia.

Research by Jeelan Aburub